Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) continued during the reporting period (04 – 10 August 2016).
Photo: Israeli Forces Demolish Two Houses in Yatta Village, Hebron. (AFP)
Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 13 Palestinian civilians; 7 of them in the West Bank and the 6 others in the Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen and chase them in the sea.
In the West Bank, on 05 August 2016, Mohammed Abu Alya (15) sustained a bullet wound to the leg when Israeli forces moved into al-Mughayer village, northeast of Ramallah and stationed at its entrance. A group of youngsters gathered and threw stones at Israeli soldiers who opened fire in response. As a result, the aforementioned child was wounded.
On the same day, Hassan Khaled Dabous, photographer at B’Tselem, was hit with a tear gas canister to the hand while covering Na’lin weekly protest, west of Ramallah. He was treated on the scene by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedics.
On 10 August 2016, 5 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded when Israeli forces opened moved into al-Am’ari refugee camp in al-Bireh. They raided a number of houses looking for weapons. Three civilians were wounded with Two Two bullets, one sustained a live bullet wound and the 5th sustained a rubber-coated metal bullet wound to the left ear.
In the Gaza Strip, on 05 August 2016, 6 Palestinian civilians sustained live bullet wounds when dozens of youngsters headed to the border area, east of al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood, and threw stones at Israeli soldiers stationed behind the border fence. Israeli forces started opening fire sporadically. As a result, 6 civilians were wounded and then transported to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Their wounds were classified as moderate.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, on 07 August 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed off Khan Younis shore in the southern Gaza Strip opened fire heavily towards the Palestinian fishing boats sailing within the allowed area for fishing. As a result, the fishermen fled away for fear of being killed or wounded. However, no casualties were reported.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 65 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in occupied East Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 44 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children. Eleven of them, including 2 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
Collective Punishment measures:
On 04 August 2016, Israeli forces moved into Yatta, south of Hebron. They raided a house belonging to the family of Mohammed Makhamrah, whose son Khaled (22) was arrested by Israeli forces after Khaled and his cousin Mohammed Ahmed Makhamrah had carried out an attack inside a restaurant in Tel Aviv and killed 4 Israelis on 08 June 2016. In the 2-storey house Khaled’s 9-member family resides on the second floor his his uncle’s 9-member family too resides on the first floor. The house was vacated and a digger then started demolishing the second floor.
An hour later, Israeli forces moved into Roqa’a area, west of the city and raided a house belonging to the family of Ahmed Makhamrah consisting of 3 floors and sheltering 7 members. Israeli forces vacated the house while the engineering team planted explosives on the third floor under the pretext it belongs to one of those who carried out Tel Aviv attack mentioned above. Half an hour later, the third floor was bombed, due to which the first and second floors sustained cracks.
Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem:
Concerning house demolitions and demolition notices, on 08 August 2016, Wa’el Barakat from Ras al-Amoud neighbourhood, east of East Jerusalem, self-demolished his house to avoid paying for the demolition costs to the Israeli municipality. The aforementioned person said that he built his house 6 months ago over his old house that was built in 1967. He added that the new house cost him NIS 60,000 and he self-demolished the house to avoid paying expensive demolition costs to the municipality.
Regarding imposing strict measures on NGOs work in the city, on 08 August 2016, the Israeli police closed Sa’ed Institution for Educational Consultations in East Jerusalem’s Old City under the pretext of “supporting terrorism”. The police had summoned Jamil Hamami, member of the Islamic Higher Council, the executive director of al-Eman schools and member of the Islamic Culture Society. They handed him the closure decision that was signed by the Israeli police general inspector. It should noted that this is the second time the Institution is closed. The first time it was closed was 3 years ago.
Restrictions on movement:
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.8 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 38.8%, 21.1% of which suffer from extreme poverty. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 44%, which reflects the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
- On 04 August 2016, Israeli forces demolished a 300-square-meter barrack in al-Radeem area, south of al-Samou’ village, southwest of Hebron, belonging to mohammed Ahmed Mahareq (62).
- On 08 August 2016, Israeli force damaged a water pipeline between Tubas and Kherbet Yezra in the northern Jordan Valley.
- On the same day, Israeli forces demolished a residential tent belonging to Zaid Abu Kharbeesh and an under-construction barrack belonging to Mohammed Hussein al-Zayed in Fasayel village, north of Jericho.
- On 09 August 2016, Israeli forces demolished al-Qal’ah restaurant belonging to Na’el Aqel and a shed belonging to Ahmed Aqel in Sebastya village, northwest of Nablus.
- On the same day, Israeli forces demolished 5 residential structures belonging to al-Hathaleen family in Kherbet Um al-Khair, east of Yatta, south of Hebron. It should be noted the structures used to shelter 32 individuals, including 9 children.
In the same context, a group of settlers moved into Qatef valley near “Rimonim” settlement, east of al-Tibah village, northeast of Ramallah. The settlers attacked shepherds with knives and sharp tools. As a result, 3 sheep were killed and 10 others were wounded. The settlers also set fire to the weeds in the area.
- Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall
- Following the Friday prayer, on 05 August 2016, Ni’lin weekly demonstration was organized under the title of “Commemorating the 8th anniversary of the death of Yousef Ahmed ‘Omairah” who was killed on 04 August 2008, and in solidarity with prisoner Bilal Kayid, who has been on hunger strike for 53 days respectively. Israeli forces fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation, while a cameraman, Hasan Khalid Nafi’ Dabus, from B’Tselem, was hit with a tear gas canister to the arm. Hasan was treated on the spot by a PRCS crew. In the same context, another demonstration was organized in Bil’in village in protest against the annexation wall. Israeli soldiers fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation.
- At approximately 13:30, on Friday, 05 August 2016, dozens of Palestinian young men headed to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood. They approached the fence, set fire to tires and threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, who sporadically fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 6 civilians were hit with live bullets. They were then taken by a PRCS ambulance to al-Shifa Hospital, where their wounds were classified as moderate. PCHR keeps the names of the wounded persons.
Note: PCHR keeps the names of the injured persons in the aforementioned demonstrations.
Rubber-coated metal bullets are lethal if they hit the head of victim from a close range.
Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property
Israeli forces Attacks:
- At approximately 11:00 on Thursday, 04 August 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with several military jeeps, a digger, a bulldozer, a car of the Organization and Constructions Department in the Civil Administration moved into al-Radim area, south of al-Samou’ village, southwest of Hebron. The bulldozers demolished a livestock barrack built of tin plates on an area of 300 square meters under the pretext of building without a permit. The barrack belongs to Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf Mahareq (62), whom Israeli authorities handed two notices to halt the construction works and demolition in 2013.
- At approximately 06:30 on Monday, 08 August 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with 5 military jeeps and vehicles belonging to the Organisation and Construction Department in the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Yarza area in the Northern Valley. The jeeps demolished part of the water pipes between Tubas and the abovementioned area. Israeli vehicles demolished about 3000 meters and confiscated 400 meters of the water line pipes and a 2-inch counter.
- On Monday morning, Israeli forces accompanied with several jeeps and cars of the Organization and Constructions Department in the Civil Administration and a bulldozer moved into Fasaiel village, north of Jericho. The bulldozer demolished a residential tent belonging to Zaid Mahmoud Abu Kharbish. Following that, they demolished an under construction livestock barrack that belongs to Mohammed Husain Hassan al-Zayed.
- At approximately 04:00 on Tuesday, 09 August 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with several vehicles belonging to the Organization and Construction Department in the Civil Administration and a bulldozer moved into the antiquities area in Sebastiyah village, northwest of Nablus. They demolished al-Qal’ah Restaurant that was established in 2004 on an area of 250 square meters and belongs to Nael Rezqallah Diyab Aqel under the pretext of building without a licence in Area (C). They also demolished a 40-square-meter shed belonging to Ahmed Diab ‘Aqel. It was established in 2010 to sell pottery.
- At approximately 06:00 on Tuesday, 09 August 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with several vehicles belonging to the Organization and Constructions Department in the Israeli Civil Administration and 2 bulldozers moved into Kherbet Um al-Khair, east of Yatta, south of Hebron. They deployed in the vicinity of the houses and forced civilians to leave them. At the same time, the 2 bulldozers demolished 5 houses belonging to al-Hathalin family under the pretext of building without a licence. The European Union donated these houses for a number of families that their houses were demolished on 06 April 2016. These houses are built of tin plates on an area of about 35 square meters. It should be mentioned that the Israeli authorities handed notices to the following families on 29 June 2016. These houses belonging to the following:
- Adel al-Hathalin family comprised of 6 members, including 4 children;
- Khadrah Suleiman al-Hathalin family comprised of 3 members, including 2 children;
- Suleiman Eid Yamen al-Hathalin family comprised of 12 members;
- Motasem Suleiman al-Hathalin family comprised of 6 members, including a child and
- Zayed Suleiman al-Hathalin family comprised of 5 members, including 3 children.
Israeli Settlers Attacks:
- At approximately 08:30 on Thursday, 04 August 2016, a group of Israeli settlers raided a valley near “Rimonim” settlement established on Palestinian lands in the eastern side of al-Tibah village, northeast of Ramallah. They attacked the Shepherds with knifes and sharp tools. As a result, 3 sheep were killed and ten others were wounded. The settlers also burnt the grass in the area.
House demolitions and demolition notices:
- At approximately 16:00 on Monday, 08 August 2016, Wael Barakat from Ras al-Amoud neighbourhood, east of East Jerusalem, self-demolished his house to avoid paying demolition costs to the Israeli municipality. Barakat said to a PCHR’s fieldworker that the municipality crews raided his house more than ones during last week and handed him a demolition notice of a house he built of metal sheets in the second floor of his house built, which was built in 1967. He mentioned that the self-demolition of his 125-square-meter house cost him NIS 60,000 to avoid paying the demolition costs to the municipality. Barakat added that he and his 8-member family live in the old family house.
Targeting NGOs Work:
- On Monday, 08 August 2016, Israeli forces closed the office of Sa’ed Institution for Educational Consultations in the Old City in East Jerusalem claiming that it supports terrorism. The Israeli police summoned Jameel Hamami, member of Higher Islamic Council, Executive Director of al-Eman schools, and Member of the Islamic Cultural Centre, to refer to Mascobiyah police center in West Jerusalem. They handed him a notice signed by Roni al-Shaikh, an Israeli Police Inspector General, to close the association. Hamami denounced the closure decision and confirmed that the institute is focused on providing educational counselling for teachers. He pointed out that this is the second time the institute gets closed as it was previously closed nearly three years ago.
Recommendations to the International Community
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
- PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
- PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
- PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
- PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
- PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
- PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
- PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
- PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
- PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
- PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;
Fully detailed document available at PCHR official.